Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter

The Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter service has been operating since 1970 and covers the whole of the Greater Auckland and Coromandel regions for anyone needing urgent medical care. They operate day and night with missions ranging from search and rescues to hospital transfers and emergency medical services. For their missions, they require a reliable rescue helicopter tracker.

The Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter uses Flightcell DZMx units on the TracPlus system to track and manage two Leonardo AW-169 and one ​​BK-117 helicopters, while also sharing and receiving tracking information with two dozen different assets across the rest of the North Island of New Zealand.

We talked to Deputy Flight Operations Manager and Pilot, James Tayler, about how he and his team use the TracPlus platform and our emergency helicopter tracker to improve safety and operations at Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopters.

How does TracPlus help your operations run on a daily basis?

“We use TracPlus frequently to keep track of where our people and machines are, no matter where they are. Our missions take us to some of the most remote locations in the Auckland region and having TracPlus onboard means we never lose track of our team.

Because we cover such a large area, we often have more than one job happening at a time, so we need to know when one of the helicopters will be back on base ready for the next job.

We also use it when we go to some of the hospital landing pads, which are restricted to a single helicopter, so we can make sure it isn't already occupied or to ensure we’re not blocking it for something else."

What TracPlus features and functionalities are the most important for you, and why?

“TracPlus is most useful for us with its ease of operation, and the real-time information it gives us of where our assets are at any time. Another important feature is the ability to get greater detail of exactly what happened at a particular time on a mission, which really helps us with the debriefing and analysis of our missions afterwards."
Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter - Photo Credit: Zico O'Neill

Photo Credit: Zico O'Neill

What would you say are the biggest strengths of the TracPlus system?

“The biggest strength of TracPlus is how easy it is to use. You switch the aircraft on and the TracPlus system just works. If you need more information, you can dive into the TracPlus app and interrogate individual reports."

How complex is it to use TracPlus while in high stress/high workload environments?

"We are often operating in demanding environments so having a system that is simple to use is essential. The TracPlus interface is intuitive, and the main screen is uncluttered so it's easy to see what's going on at a glance - but it’s also easy to dig into more detail if we need it."

Has there ever been a situation where TracPlus was used to retask you to a different situation?

"The National Airdesk, who are the tasking authority in New Zealand, also runs the TracPlus system, so they can see all the national assets on one screen. They frequently use it to see where the nearest helicopter is to a particular mission, so it’s not unusual for us to be on our way to or from a mission and be tasked to go to another mission. This enables a massive increase in efficiency as we would have used to have to come back to base, shut down and then get retasked."

Is there a specific example where that second tasking resulted in a positive outcome?

"There was a job not long ago where we were coming back from Waikato hospital, having dropped a patient off there. The National Airdesk saw that we were on route back to Ardmore, but there was a patient in need out on the West Coast that required a helicopter. By having TracPlus it was easy for us to be retasked, as they knew exactly where we were, and it saved a lot of time getting us to the new job rather than requesting a completely new helicopter and crew."

What has changed in your organisation by having TracPlus on board?

"TracPlus has provided us with the real-time ability to see where all of our assets are. It means we are able to plan ahead, and have crews ready as soon as a helicopter is coming back from a mission. By knowing exactly when a helicopter is coming back we can have the required fuel and crew ready to go for the next mission - which saves valuable time."

What does having TracPlus mean for your team?

"It just gives us good situational awareness for the whole team. The fact that we can log in to TracPlus from any mobile device or desktop means that wherever we are, we know what our assets are doing in real-time and can be ready for anything that comes to us."

What would you say to someone thinking about implementing a tracking system?

"If you want the ability to keep track of your assets and the flexibility to be able to respond to things quickly, then TracPlus is a very powerful tool that allows you to do that in your organisation."


Interested in learning more about how TracPlus can help your business or organisation? Get in touch with us at

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